Cartoonists document Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement

Art by Luis Simoes
The last few days have seen no small amount of drama in Hong Kong, as disenfranchised students are calling attention to their lack of political freedoms. The students have taken up umbrellas to protect themselves from the massive amounts of tear gas the riot police have used as a means of restoring order. 

On Facebook you can find two groups dedicated to recording the scenes at the the Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, and Admiralty areas of Hong Kong. Urban Sketchers Hong Kong (USHK) and Sketcher-Kee have both been in existence for about a year, and have responded to the recent unrest with vigor. Its members have been posting sketches featuring unfriendly police, tense protesters, and poetically empty or chaotically crammed urban vistas dominated by umbrellas and the color yellow. 

At the moment the protests are in a bit of a lull, as protest leaders have met with government officials and agreed to meet for talks starting on October 10. Student leader Lester Shum has said that the protests would continue until “practical measures [have] been forged between the government and the people.”

USHK cofounder Alvin Wong emphasized to Hyperallergic‘s Laura C. Mallonee the value of documenting “the biggest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong history,” no matter the risk. As Wong Suede of Sketcher-Kee says, “We want to use our ability to make awareness for the public, to share our observations, experiences, and thoughts via the Internet to the world. ... We hope we can support and encourage the protesters who are fighting for Hong Kong … since we are also protestors, we hope it may [achieve something] for the whole movement.”

Art by Rob Sketcherman

Art by Collins Yeung ART

Art by Wink Au
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Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Gilbert and George: Headline grabbing ‘London Pictures’ opens Hong Kong White Cube

Gilbert and George Don’t Get Their C*cks Out Shock! might have been the appropriate headline for the latest Gilbert and George exhibition, at the new White Cube Gallery in Hong Kong. “London Pictures” sees the dynamic duo present a collection of paintings composed from tabloid headlines collated over the past 6 years. The result is a dark and unsettling portrait of life in the once swinging metropolis, where crime, fear, violence, vice and terrorism seem ubiquitous. In an interview with Euro News Gilbert explained the thinking behind their latest work:

“We feel we’re not trying to shock anything. This is the reality that we found in London. Because we didn’t invent this title. They are there.”

Then Gilbert and George alternately explained “London Pictures” in a series of sound-bites:

George: “We believe that everyone understands what is inside everybody which is death.”
Gilbert: ‘‘Hope.’‘
George: ‘‘Life.’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Fear’‘
George: ‘‘Sex’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Money’‘
George: ‘‘Race’‘
Gilbert: ‘‘Religion”
George: ‘‘We’re only dealing with the universal elements and we love to do that with people wherever they live.’‘

Though at first glance it appears there is little subtlety here, the grim austerity makes the paintings all the more effective. Our eyes are drawn to a series of highlighted words set against a background of net curtains and brick walls, there is little of the joy once found in Gilbert and George’s “piss” and “shit” paintings, or their beautiful and iconic portraits of young men. The emphasis on text reminds me of the clipped headline collages made by Kenneth Halliwell in the 1960s, in particular, his poster for Joe Orton’s play Loot. That said, there is nothing second-hand about “London Pictures”, it is a powerful exhibition and Gilbert and George have lost none of their bite, or wicked sense of humor - note how the Queen’s head (apparently lifted from the back of U.K. coinage) is stamped on each painting with a word relevant to each picture (“Killer”, “Rapist”, “Vice”, “Victim”, etc.) written above.

“London Pictures” is the inaugural exhibition at the Hong Kong White Cube Gallery, and Gilbert and George were chosen because of their global status as iconic status. White Cube director Graham Steele said:

“Because the pictures are difficult, these pictures are unrelenting. These pictures force you to spend time with them and they’re about our daily lives. They’re about the way in which individuals live in metropolitan areas. Gilbert and George are asking with these series, ‘is this the world that we live in?”

“London Pictures” runs until May 5th 2012 at Hong Kong’s White Cube.

For a more in depth interview with the fabulous duo, pop over to the White Cube Gallery site, where Tim Marlow talks to Gilbert and George.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Gilbert and George: Living Sculptures


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
60s and 70s Asian album covers

David Greenfield has amassed a collection of records from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan which are all available for purchase online. I liked going through his collections from the 60s and 70s. It’s a great resource for loopy graphic design inspiration!


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Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment